Boarding Schools vs. Military Boot Camps: Choosing the Right Path for Troubled Teens

Living with a teenager who is acting out, who is violent and troubled, can be painful for everyone involved. You may have looked into these options before, or perhaps you have already tried one and are now searching for another. Know, first of all, that you are not alone. People are working to support you and your child, and this blog will seek to explain the difference between military boot camps and boarding schools and direct you toward a solution. 

Military Boot Camps

The idea that a child should be taught discipline at a military school has been pedaled for generations. The truth is that while it can be an excellent place for some children, it can be a hostile one for those with mental health needs or other requirements. 

It is important to note that two main types of military schools exist. The first is appropriate for teenagers without emotional and mental health needs. These military “academies” are academic institutions that also offer military training. 

The other military school is a “therapeutic” program of physical activity and strict punishment without therapeutic support or academic training. 

Another category in itself is military boot camps. Often attached to militaristic institutions, boot camps are few and far between nowadays. These camps, often rebranded as “wilderness camps” and “outdoor therapeutic programs,” claim to treat a range of problems in a short amount of time, including drug and alcohol addiction, anxiety and depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and more. 

The promise of these camps to produce results fast and cheaply to parents can make them seem more appealing than they often are. While some camps can offer good results, they are usually run by inexperienced staff dealing with teenagers with various problems – hence the lower price.

Some great camps are doing important work getting children outside and moving as a legitimate and effective treatment for various problems; it is essential to do thorough research before choosing which camp to pick for your child. 

Boarding Schools

Therapeutic boarding schools are programs designed to last one or two years in a setting away from the family home. They tend to be holistic programs that work around a personalized treatment plan. In addition to the personal treatment plan, the child will also have academic lessons and participate in recreational activities to ensure they come out of the school with academic accreditations they can use beyond their treatment. 

These boarding schools are similar to traditional school environments in many ways, with drama, art, music, sports, and academic lessons combined in a regulated system. Outside the classroom, the teenagers live communally in dorms, with each participant responsible for certain chores. This combination of individual one-to-one time and group activities makes teenagers better equipped to move back into the community as quickly as possible once their program is finished. 

These programs are best for children with addiction issues, learning disabilities, and emotional or behavioral problems. 

Military Boot Camps vs Boarding Schools

Military boot camps have declined in recent years, mainly due to a 2007 study by the Government Accountability Office, which reported the inefficacy of most boot camps despite their emphasis on physical training. On the other hand, boarding schools have been proven to demonstrate “clinically significant improvements” in their participants, according to research by the Standing Research Committee of The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs

However, if you have a troubled teenager who is perhaps lashing out, you’re at your wits’ end regarding how to help them and want a quick and effective solution. You may find yourself looking for boot camps. It’s a common idea that these boot camps teach obedience and self-reliance in the face of negative reinforcement and “tough love.” However, for a teenager struggling with low self-esteem and emotional and mental problems, this can often make their problems even worse. 

Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, has been proven to provide better results in troubled teens. This is widely practiced in boarding schools, where a cohort of trained mental health professionals and academic tutors work to restore your child’s confidence and self-belief by building a stable and supportive environment to grow. 

Finding a Boarding School 

Help Your Teen Now is an organization working to help you and your child find a solution that best fits them. Their extensive catalog of therapeutic boarding schools can be scoured to find the school within your budget and location and which has the features best suited to your child and their needs. 

We help you find a school in your state today; call our team to get started.

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